Truth Beyond.../Imagery/Passage Into Forlorn

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This two-disc compilation shouldn't be anyone's first Neuraxis purchase, but it should absolutely be in the collection of anyone who owns either of their two most recent albums, 2005's Trilateral Progression and 2008's The Thin Line Between, because this set gathers up everything they released prior to that -- two full-length albums and an EP, plus a couple of bonus live tracks. Imagery, the band's 1997 debut, is much more brutal and conventionally death metal-ish than anything they'd do afterward. There are lots of progressive interludes and arty melodies in songs like "Oscillated to Intelligence," but they're balanced by blasting drums and guttural vocal gargling. Overall, the album puts them in territory closer to Pestilence's Consuming Impulse than to the high-tech sound they'd achieve on later efforts. The 2001 EP A Passage Into Forlorn is even more schizophrenic, with songs like "Unite" and "Link" mixing ultra-clean melodic guitars with gut-churning vocals, downtuned riffing and blastbeats. It's as though Neuraxis was two different bands battling for supremacy, and while the sound of that struggle is occasionally quite compelling, the two sides often fail to resolve, making the prettier parts seem tacked on. Only on their third release, Truth Beyond, also included here, did they truly begin to reconcile all their various impulses and become the tech-death kill squad underground metal fans know and love today.

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